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# Topic 2: The Trigonometric Ratios – Finding Sides

Labelling sides
To use the Trigonometric Ratios, commonly called the Trig Ratios, it is important to learn how to
label the right angled triangle. The hypotenuse of the triangle is still the longest side and located
opposite the right angle. The two other sides are named: the opposite and the adjacent. The
everyday language meanings of these terms help in using these labels.

The opposite side is located opposite the specified angle.

The adjacent is located adjacent (next to) the specified angle.

Hypotenuse

Opposite

θ This is the
specified angle.

When naming a triangle, always name the Hypotenuse first. The reason for doing this is that both
the Hypotenuse and the Adjacent are adjacent (next to) the specified angle. By naming the
hypotenuse first there can only be one side that is adjacent to the specified angle.

Example:
Op

po

nt e
jac
e
sit
site

ja

ce

20° pp
Hyp

nt

O 55°

18° nuse
oten

Hypote
use
Hypoten
use

Opposite

Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 1
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This means that the opposite and adjacent side must be equal. this means that the missing angle is also 45°. The triangle is drawn below. With the opposite and adjacent the adjacent being the same length.au W www.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . 90-45=45 use en Opposite t po hy 45° Adjacent Same length opposite The Trig ratio associated with opposite and adjacent is Tan θ = .edu.scu. Consider a right angled triangle with an angle of 45°. the example below gives an indication of how it works. This means Tan 45° is always 1. So far: In a right angled triangle with a specified angle of 45°.edu. the value of this ratio would be 1. opposite the value of the ratio is 1. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy For the specified For the specified H angle J: angle I: 5 12 5 Sin J = Sin I = 12 13 13 I 12 5 Cos J = Cos I = 13 13 13 J 5 12 Tan J = Tan I = 12 5 For the specified angle of 43° x Sin 43° = 14 14 m x y Cos 43° = 14 43° x Tan 43° = y y To help understand trigonometry. so the triangle is actually an isosceles right angled triangle. adjacent Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 3 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.

the value will be related the 45° angle. There are other ratios that can be calculated and whatever value they equal.scu. This idea can be applied to right angled triangles with other sizes of specified angles. Pressing this key allows the user to change between the different angle types. the length adjacent of the opposite and the adjacent must be the same.edu. On the Casio fx-82AU. Keep pressing until DEG is found on the upper part of the screen. Using your calculator The next step is learning how to use the Trig functions on your scientific calculator.au W www. In this module. Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 4 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Because the value of the ratio is obtained without actually knowing any measurements.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Note: on this calculator it is easy to change this setting accidentally. If the specified angle is 45°. Read the user guide for your calculator to make sure it is always set on degrees. angles are being expressed in degrees. press the SHIFT key then the MODE SETUP key. Press 3 for Degrees. On the Sharp EL 531. At this stage the trig ratio associated with a given angle will be found. another key idea is: Key Idea For any size right angled triangle with a specified angle of 45°. Every time the user intends to use Trig functions. A small D should appear on the top of the display as shown on the left. opposite the ratio Tan 45° = is always 1.edu. this setting should be checked. Scientific calculators allow the user to express the angle in three different ways. there is a key labelled DRG .

(small sides are opposite small angles. because x is opposite the 37° angle it should be smaller than 12m. Step 5: Try to check the reasonableness The 12m side is opposite an angle of (90-37) 53°. one angle and one side are given (36°. 1500N).au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . the 1500N side is the hypotenuse and the v side is the opposite.042648601 The missing side length (x) is approx 9.scu. Based on the 36° (specified) angle. so 9.edu. v 1500 × Sin36° = × 1500 • multiply both sides by 1500 1500 1500 × Sin36° = v Step 4: Calculate the answer using your calculator. 12[l37=9.04m. large sides are opposite large angles) A force of 1500N acts at 36° below the right horizontal as shown in the diagram below.au W www. The trig ratio to be used in this question is Sin because it contains the side lengths hypotenuse and opposite.04 could be correct.edu. In this triangle. x 12 × Tan37° = × 12 • multiply both sides by 12 12 12 × Tan37° = x Step 4: Calculate the answer using your calculator. Calculate the size of the vertical component of the force (v) Vertical Component (V) 36° Fo r ce = 15 00 N Step 1: Determine which ratio to use. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Step 3: Do the necessary rearranging. Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 6 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu. Step 2: Write out the ratio and substitute in values. opp Sinθ = hyp x Sin36° = 1500 Step 3: Do the necessary rearranging.

7N. The next problem is slightly different in method. 455 d × Cos19° = × d • multiply both sides by d d d × Cos19° 455 = • divide both sides by Cos19° Cos19° Cos19° 455 d= Cos19° Step 4: Calculate the answer using your calculator. The hypotenuse is also the longest side. The answer of 481. 455m).au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Step 2: Write out the ratio and substitute in values. Step 5: Try to check the reasonableness The hypotenuse of this triangle is 1500N.7 The vertical component of force (v) is approx 881. In this triangle. the 455m side is the adjacent and the d side is the hypotenuse.2174099 The missing side length is approx 481. The trig ratio to be used in this question is Cos because the question contains the two side lengths adjacent and the hypotenuse.2m is longer than the other given side (455m) so the answer could be correct.au W www. Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 7 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.edu. 455Pk19=481. Obtaining v as 881.scu. one angle and one side are given (19°. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy 1500[j36=881.edu.7 N is consistent with this information. Based on the 19° angle. 455 m 19° d Step 1: Determine which ratio to use. Step 3: rearranging is different because the variable is in the denominator.2m Step 5: Try to check the reasonableness The missing side is the hypotenuse which is the longest side on the triangle. adj Cosθ = hyp 455 Cos19° = d Step 3: Do the necessary rearranging.

edu.scu. The angle of elevation of a plane at an altitude of 4500m is 27°to the horizontal. the 4550m side is the opposite and the d side is the hypotenuse. In this triangle. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Some problem solving questions refer to the ‘Angle of Elevation’ or the ‘Angle of Depression’ t s igh The angle of elevation is the angle formed by a of e line of sight above the horizontal Lin Angle of elevation Horizontal Horizontal Angle of depression The angle of depression is the angle formed by a Lin e of line of sight below the horizontal sig h t The next problem is a simple problem solving question. 4500m). one angle and one side are given (27°. how far away is the plane.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Based on the 27° angle. d 4500m 27° Step 1: Determine which ratio to use. The trig ratio to be used in this question is Sin. Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 8 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.edu. In a direct line.au W www. The extra skill here is to read the information given and construct a diagram.

minutes and seconds). minutes and seconds.64198859 Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 9 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu. the display should read 0.7=.7° is l32. 4500 d × Sin 27° = × d • multiply both sides byd d d × Sin 27° 4500 = • divide both sides by Sin 27° Sin 27° Sin 27° 4500 d= Sin 27° Step 4: Calculate the answer using your calculator.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Activity questions are located at the end.101691 The plane is 9912m away.scu. Step 5: Try to check the reasonableness The missing side is the hypotenuse. Video ‘Trigonometry Ratios – Finding Side Lengths’ The sections below may or may not be relevant to your studies. The answer of 9912m is longer than the other given side (4500m) so the answer could be correct.au W www.edu. Angles less than 1°or containing a part angle Angles with a part that is smaller than 1 degree can be expressed either in degrees as a decimal or in degrees. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Step 2: Write out the ratio and substitute in values. minutes and seconds is just like time (hours. which is the longest side on the triangle. opp Sinθ = hyp 4500 Sin 27° = d Step 3: Do the necessary rearranging. Angle measurement in degrees. 60 seconds equalling 1 minute (60” = 1’) 60 minutes equalling one degree (60’ = 1°) Finding the tan of 32.edu. 4500Pj27=9912.

706307571) Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 10 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.250380004) cos 37°14’ (your calculator should display 0. 42 minutes) is: On a Casio fx-82: j67x42x= The x key represents degrees(°).au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G .794647188 Use your calculator to find the following: sin 14. minutes(′) and seconds(″) Or On a Sharp EL531: j67 D°M ' S 42= The display should read 0.edu.5° (your calculator should display 0. 22 minutes.511725853) sin 44°56’7” (your calculator should display 0.au W www.925209718 Finding the cos of 37°22’41” (37 degrees.scu. 41 seconds ) is: On a Casio fx-82: k37x22x41x Or On a Sharp EL531: k37 D°M ' S 22 D°M ' S 41 The display should read 0.796178041) tan 27.edu.1° (your calculator should display 0. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Finding the sin of 67°42’ (67 degrees.

There are two methods for expressing directions.edu.57° = 303° T 57° 40° 31° 270° . N 40°T 360° . The bearing of the tower from the original point is N44°E.scu.31° = 239°T The second method is a Compass Bearing such as S40°W. The first compass direction stated is either N or S. N N 40° E N 57° W 57° 40° 31° S 59° W Video ‘Bearings’ A group of bushwalkers walk 5. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Compass and True Bearings This problem involves compass directions. Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 11 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Calculate the distance walked in the easterly direction by the walkers.4 km north and then turn. followed by an angular measurement in an E or W direction. They walk in an easterly direction until they reach a tower. giving East as 90°.edu.au W www. The first method is a True Bearing where North is 0° and the angle increases in a clockwise direction. South as 180° and West as 270°.

d 5. A ship is 1km out to sea from the base of a cliff. The next example is a problem solving question that contains multiple steps. 1.2km to the east.4 km 2. Do the necessary rearranging. Write out the ratio and substitute in values.4 3.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . 5.4 5.4 × Tan44° = d 4. The diagram is. Determine which ratio to use.214719384 The tower is 5. Calculate the answer using your calculator. From the ship. the angle of elevation to the base of the lighthouse is 16° and the angle of elevation to the top of the lighthouse is 19. the 5.5°.4km).au W www.4 × Tan44° = × 5. The trig ratio to be used in this question is Tan. opp Tanθ = 44° adj d Tan 44° = 5.edu.scu. In this triangle.4Ol44=5.4km side is the adjacent and the d side is the opposite. hL ht hc 19. Based on the 44° angle. Try to check the reasonableness The missing side should be about the same length as the given side. one angle and one side are given d Tower (44°.5° 16° 1 km Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 12 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.edu. 5. Care must be taken to read the question and accurately transfer this information into a diagram. On top of the cliff is a lighthouse. Calculate the height of the lighthouse.4 5. 5. 5. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy The diagram for the problem is drawn below.

au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . identify the adjacent.7 = hc Calculating the total height: ht Tan19.1 = ht Calculating the height of the lighthouse: hL = ht − hc hL = 354.5° = ht 354. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy Remember that only right angled triangles can be used to solve this question. The strategy to solve this problem is: 1. Calculate the height of the cliff 2.edu. Calculate the height of the lighthouse by subtracting the height of the cliff from the total height. For the following triangles.edu.5° = 1000 1000 × Tan19. This is approximately equivalent to a 14 level building! Activity 1. Calculate the total height (cliff + lighthouse) 3. (a) (b) (c) a α° c z y b 60° x Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 13 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.4m The height of the lighthouse is 67. opposite and hypotenuse for each triangle. Calculating the height of the cliff: (1km = 1000m) hc Tan16° = 1000 1000 × Tan16° = hc 286.4 m.au W www.7 hL = 67.scu.1 − 286.

au W www.edu. For the following triangles.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy 5 θ° 12 13 (d) (e) (f) 245 4mm β° 45.edu.3 γ° 34mm 450 30mm 25 h k δ° g 2.5° 25 f h b 58° Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 14 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu. find the value of the missing side(s).scu. (a) (b) (c) 245 63° 16m 22.

3°. From a distance of 50m on perfectly level ground. A plane is flying at altitude of 5000m. A walker decides to take a direct route to a landmark.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G .edu.edu.7m 24°45' 68. (a) S15°E (b) NE (c) N45°W (d) 10° W of N (e) SSW (f) 215° 4. How far is the boat from the base of the cliff? 5. the angle of elevation to the top is 24.6°. calculate the horizontal distance which places the plane directly above the boat. The angle of depression of the boat is 15. Find the height of the building? 6.5 km 24 cm Find h and then the area of the triangle. 3.7 km at a bearing of 78°T.au W www. The pilot observes a boat at an angle of depression of 12°. How far did they walk in a northerly and easterly direction? Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 15 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy (d) (e) (f) b e 14. 7.52° 500m m 33° 5c m d 72 (g) (h) (i) 9° 36°36' 34 5m m x h h 57° 57° 62. A person standing on top of a 25 m cliff sees a rower out to sea. A student wishes to find the height of a building. Express the following directions as a true bearing. They walk 1.scu.

Ignoring the height of the person.edu. After 1 minute 15 seconds. A plane flying at an altitude of 10 000m is flying away from a person. Find the perimeter of this trapezium.au W www. The angle of elevation of the plane is 76° when initially observed. the kite flies at an angle of elevation of 28°. A kite is attached to a 45m line.scu. On a windy day. what is the speed of the plane in km/hr? 76° 29° Centre for Teaching and Learning | Academic Practice | Academic Skills Page 16 T +61 2 6626 9262 E ctl@scu.au/teachinglearning [last edited on 22 July 2015] CRICOS Provider: 01241G . the plane is at an angle of elevation of 29°. 10. 28 cm 51° 44 cm 9.edu. Centre for Teaching and Learning Numeracy 8. Calculate the height of the kite above the ground.